I don’t ever think we are truly done learning and those who think they are often stay stagnant in their place in life and are unable to adapt and innovate.
Irene Michaels is a Chicago based entrepreneur, philanthropist, accomplished equestrian and beauty and lifestyle expert who has her own brand titled I On brand, that includes a beauty brand loved by celebrities including Eva Longoria.
Irene began her career as a dancer, model and actress who had a reoccurring role on General Hospital in the 1990’s. She then formed two production companies that produced promotional events for corporations, hotels, and convention centers, as well as a modelling agency, Show Time, that she owned for 12-years.
In her late sixties, Irene moved back to her roots in beauty, celebrity and health and launched I On The Scene – a culture, fashion and beauty site that publishes exciting content on the biggest entertainment news in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles and overseas. Due to the success of I On The Scene, Irene was given the title of Contributor at HuffPost in 2014 where she writes about issues as diverse travel, relationships, pets, healthy living and beauty secrets.
Through I On The Scene, Irene has covered red-carpet events including the Tony Awards, the Grammy Awards, the Golden Globe, and the Academy Awards, and she has interviewed numerous celebrities including Al Pacino, Dolly Parton, Bette Midler, Vanessa Redgrave, Quentin Tarantino, Harry Connick Jr, Oscar de la Renta, Cindy Crawford, Christy Brinkley, and Arianna Huffington.
With her extensive knowledge and extremely youthful appearance, Irene decided to share her expertise and launched an anti-aging line of products called I On Youth Collection by Irene Michaels, which features a Roll-On Serum, Brightening CC cream, Make-Up Remover Wipes, and a Gel Cream Cleanser.
One of the forces motivating Irene is the idea that her work matters and she brings awareness and garners support for many causes. Her charitable affiliations include PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving), La Rabida Children’s Hospital, the Chicago Architectural Foundation, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Chicago Journalists Association, Chicago Historical Society, Wayne DuPage Riding Club, Screen Actors Guild, The Joffrey Circle, Better Boys Foundation, Theater School of DePaul, The 100 Club of Chicago, and the Gary Sinise Foundation.
In addition to her work with I On, Irene is an award-winning equestrian and can often be found at the stables. For demonstrating consistency and exceptionalism in her riding, Irene earned her Colors, a great honor in the equestrian community. She has also covered major horse shows like The Hampton Classic and CSIO Barcelona Nations Cup Jumping Final through I On The Scene.
Over the years Irene has demonstrated that it is not in her nature to slow down and she thrives on the challenges presented by her demanding work schedule, silently taking pride in highly deserved success and remaining ever grounded and gracious to those who have contributed to her mission along the way.
Irene splits her time between Chicago and New York where she has homes with her husband Arny Granat, a co-founder of Jam Productions and partner in Jam Theatricals. The pair were married in 2015 after 10-years of dating.
Where did the idea for IonTheScene come from?
I’ve been in the entertainment industry for most of my lifeand have always loved participating in social events. At a very young age I studied dance, music and acting, and later in life I utilized all these talents and became a dancer on Broadway, an actress in Hollywood and a producer.
Part of my fascination with performing and participating in social events is the study of people. I have always been intrigued by meeting new people – learning about their lives and success stories.
We go to see the great plays to connect with the stories of others, and better understand ourselves through the grand story of the performance. It reminds us of our humanity and how much we’ve had to come through in order to shine. I love to see people shine, and make it a priority to highlight the beauty within and without with great interviews, fashion, and beauty tips to help you look and feel your best.
What does your typical day look like and do you make it productive?
If you want to be productive you have to wake up early. Morning is the best time for focus since your mind is clear and distractions are fewer. I get up every morning at 6:00am, and I highly recommend it for anyone trying to be a successful entrepreneur.
Now that you are up early, I believe it’s incredibly important to start the day off investing in your body and mind. Personally the first thing I do is exerciseand meditation. It helps to keep me focused, and energizes me for the day. Then I make a large protein shake and drink it with with my daily vitamins to make sure I’m getting the proper nutrients to stay focused, clear headed, and healthy. Your health should be your number one priority since without it everything else becomes obsolete.
Next, I look at all the work that I have laid out the night before and prioritize which tasks need attention first. I may be a perpetual multitasker, as we all must be in today’s society, but it’s important to set deadlines and goals in order to decide when a project needs to be completed, or to see where the hold ups and bottlenecks are so they can be properly addressed.
I then go directly to my computer and answer as many emails as possible and return as many calls as possible – all before 10am. It’s important not to put off that which can be done now, especially if your priority is productivity. Of course you should keep in mind your predetermined priorities, and if it is something that has to wait, be sure to set a calendar reminder for the future to follow up with it then.
After answering phone calls and emails I make a list for my assistant regarding anything that has to be done outside the office. I then get together either by phone or in person with my team to finalize contracts, edit photographs, plan interviews and write stories on the events that we currently covered. I have a home office so it takes a great deal of discipline not to get distracted by outside actions.
Also, I fully utilize collaborative software so my team and I can work on projects remotely at the same time. This is important since we always have several projects on the table at once. The team is writing, editing, shooting, posting stories, working on back-end functions, returning all e-mails, reviewing pitches, answering request for interviews, applying for credentials daily, as well as maintaining and running campaigns for my beauty line.
When there’s a lot to do, it’s important to stay organized. I keep everything in Microsoft One Note which is shared with my team so we can accomplish tasks together and stay on the same page with what needs to get done.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Communication is key, especially when working in a team environment. If I have a new idea that I want to see to fruition, I call a production meeting with the team and present the idea, discuss the direction for it, and decide who is going to take on which tasks to accomplish it. I’m of the mindset that more heads are better than one, so my team may present additional ideas, challenges, and help me define my execution by simply asking questions and proposing solutions – and I like that. I do think it’s important to be able to adapt ideas, especially if new and better facets are proposed. Of course it comes down to me to decide which ideas will go into the final project since my mind is always on the brand and bigger picture in the way the rest of the team is not, though I think it’s important to value everyone’s input.
From there we make a to-do list with deadlines attached, and set a follow up meeting which would usually involve securing appropriate research and resources to help us execute the idea. I think it’s important for each team member to work on their own part of a project with some autonomy while touching base with each other, since although more heads are better than one, too many cooks in the kitchen should also be a consideration.
After we have completed the project, it’s important to do our due diligence to identify our strengths and weaknesses and tie up any loose ends so we can perfect our process for the next time, and leave no detail unresolved. At this point it’s also important, as a good leader, to recognize your team members for their contributions, ideas, and ingenuity to communicate that you value their input, ideas, and hard work.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Honestly, I haven’t found anything that doesn’t excite me, truly. I love fashion, production, animals and people involved in charitable causes. I am incredibly inspired by those around me who are doing good and creating beauty in the world. If I had to choose one thing I would say that what excites me is the beauty in the world, which can be celebrated by internal and external sources of beauty. Of course I believe it’s important to cultivate the internal beauty of being a good person and giving back to the community first, since without it, no amount of external beauty will make one shine.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Meditation is probably the most important aspect of my daily routine. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by calls, texts, emails, and staring at screens all day, it helps to quite the mind and focus, cutting out all the noise of distractions. In times of stress it helps calm me down so I can make the proper decisions, and is great for my overall mood and well being which is important in high stakes situations. Consistency is key when it comes to meditation since the more frequent you do it the easier it is to get back to the place of tranquility and zen, and the more pervasive a conscious state of being is in your daily life.
What advice would you give your young self?
If I could address my younger self I’d tell myself to get as much education as possible, and to never stop learning. I don’t ever think we are truly done learning and those who think they are often stay stagnant in their place in life and are unable to adapt and innovate. Education can take many forms as well – from traditional institutional education, to life experience, and learning from other successful people. That is why I highly value interviews and websites like this one that make such information easily accessible. One idea can be the spark needed to cultivate another person’s success. I believe everyone knows something you don’t and it’s important to keep searching for that.
One thing that life experience has taught me that I would like to share with my younger self is also the important step of knowing when to throw in the towel. You don’t have to keep making the same mistake just because you have invested so much time in making it. Every situation is different, but knowing when something isn’t working and having the grace to accept it and try something new is true progress.
Tell us something that’s true that almost no body agrees with you on.
Failure is often considered a negative, though I always see it as an opportunity for growth, change, and development. You learn much faster from failure than success. Greatness comes from finding out who you are when facing failure.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I think it’s imperative to create really good habits and do them every single day. For me it is to meditate, practice patience, and cultivate listening skills. It think it’s incredibly important to keep an open mindand keep checking yourself on a daily basis. Ego is not your friend when it comes to owning a business. It stifles us from listening, learning, and from being open minded. I’m always open to listen to new ideas. That is how you grow.
Without open mindedness you might miss out on a great idea, or a chance to grow your business, or adapt to the changing times. If you can practice humbleness, while maintaining leadership, communication, inclusiveness, and adaptability you have everything it takes to be a great leader.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Routinely examine the business and research and invest time into learning how to make it gro. Look at the businesses SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Identity where your weak spots and opportunities are, and focus attention and future projects on those areas of the business. If you’re not sure – do your research or consult a professional consultant. It’s important to invest time in expanding your knowledge base as a leader, and sometimes that means hiring people that are more seasoned in those areas. We can’t do everything ourselves, and our human resources are our greatest asset. It’s important to select your team for what they individually bring to the table and what they can contribute to the business to help it grow. We’re in an environment that is continually changing and growing in new ways, faster than ever. It’s important to remain flexible and agile to the changing market. Absorb as much information as you can on your market – do research, subscribe to industry news, read studies, attend conferences. Don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with your team. We have meetings, do test runs, bounce ideas and have think tanks on the subject once a week.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it…
I really can’t say that I failed at anything, since I don’t look at it as failure – simply a learning experience. You learn infinitely more from failure than success, so it’s important to have the grace to know when to move on and cut your losses, and the humility to understand what went wrong and what you learned from it so you won’t make the same mistake in the future.
If I had a fault I would say it’s being interested in too many things. I love to multi-task and I am still in debates about the productivity of it. I have read many articles that say that you should only do one thing at a time and stay totally focused on that, however, in today’s world it isn’t enough to do one thing at a time, especially with the number of demands and daily tasks rising. The world is very fast paced, and you need to keep up to snuff continually. I believe there is a healthy balance, since doing too much will effect quality, and too little, productivity.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think someone should develop a dog leash that release a little spray of water when the dog barks. This would be a training device to teach the little one good manners. It won’t hurt him, it will startle him for a minute and he will soon begin to learn not to bark. Some dogs are bigger barkers than others, and there isn’t anything more annoying than someone’s dog continually barking no matter what the master says…Of course the lease should be made in all sizes and colors..
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? .
A little girl and her mother were shopping at American Girl. The little girl had picked out a doll for her birthday and her mom was short $100 and she told the little girl that she had to pick another one instead and the child began to cry so sadly, that I went up to the mother and handed her $100.00. The two of them hugged me and I was thrilled that I could bring some happiness and smiles to this lovely family. The look on the little girls face will stay with me for a long time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use a tool called Speak Write. I do many interviews and this smart little tool allows me to have multiple people on a call at one time and translates and types the conversation and sends it back to you in 24 hours. It’s very handy.
As I mentioned earlier I also use Microsoft One Note as well as an application called Team Viewer which allows us to remote share our desktops which is handy in more technical projects.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Power of Now” by Eckart Tolle. It is such a great book that helps you keep circling back to the center, and reminds us that we are all we really have is “The Now”. This is such a great tool in high pressure situations and reminds us that all we can effect is this current moment – so do it wisely.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle it.
• Meditate, exercise, and properly hydrate every morning – No matter how busy you are you won’t be able to focus or properly function without taking care of your body and mind first.
• Utilize your team – Our differences are what make us great, and everyone knows something you don’t.
• Don’t be afraid to Fail – We learn so much more from our failures than we do our successes, so embrace them as a necessary part of the learning process.
• Be Humble – Have the grace to know that someone else always knows more, and make an effort to always continue to educate yourself and adapt to changing times and environments. Cultivate listening and open mindedness and be adaptable.
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